Republicans

Analysis: More Ghastly GOP Poll Numbers, Loud Dems, Trump's Strategy

Analysis: Another Week of Ghastly Polls for the GOP, Loud Dems, Trump’s Illiberalism

Our weekly poll roundup took a break last week for there just wasn’t a lot of news – everything was still terrible, worst case scenario bad for Trump and the GOP.  There wasn’t much to add to that story.  This week, same thing but couldn’t let two weeks pass.  So, let’s go to the polls!  

New Fox New polling had Biden up 13 in MN, 11 in MI, 9 in PA.  Quinnipiac had Biden up 13 (!!!!!!) in Florida and 1 in Texas.  2 national polls had Biden up more than 10 yesterday, Gallup found Party ID going from 47D/44R to 50D/38R last month, and there is a growing body of evidence Trump’s numbers on the economy have begun to head south – an ominous development for the GOP.  Democrats continued to put up very strong numbers in the key Senate races, and the DCCC reported 50% more cash on hand than the NRCC heading into the home stretch.  

Some notes on what we are seeing: 

What is Trump’s Strategy? As people who have been in politics a long time, it’s just impossible to explain what Trump and his campaign are doing now.  When you are down like he is, you need to associate yourself with issues which bring you more voters.  But again and again – on masking, the schools, refusal to fight COVID, letting the stimulus lapse, obeying Putin, challenging the protestors/defending rogue policing – the President embraces an extreme position, ones which often poll in the mid 30s.  Not one time in recent months has he chosen the popular thing, something that would allow him to work together with Democrats, and get his numbers up.  Instead this strategy of embracing extreme positions – send all kids back to school regardless of COVID! – has driven him to some of the worst numbers of his entire Presidency, and some of the worst an incumbent President has ever seen.  It’s a baffling re-election strategy.  

This lack of interest, or effort, in raising his standing concerns us.  It’s as if he has given up maintaining power through the election itself, and begun to lean into a series of truly extraordinary illiberal acts as his means for maintaining power – weakening the Postal Service, partnering again with the Russians to smear his Democratic opponent, delegitimizing the election, throwing Michael Cohen in jail/pardoning Roger Stone and perhaps most importantly, his fascistic mobilization against his domestic enemies, “the Radical Left.” 

As we’ve written, we worry that the speeches the President gave on July 3rd and 4th were an open admission that he was now going to attack “the left” not just through ads and a campaign, but with the United States government itself.  How else can you read this passage: “American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles, and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the Earth. We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters”?

And as we’ve seen in Portland in recent days, that process of using the government itself to attack his domestic opponents appears to have begun.  Everyone has to have eyes wide open here.  

The Democrats Are Going To Be Very Loud In the Home Stretch – Another thing which will make a GOP recovery this year far more difficult is what’s happened below the Presidential level these last two cycles.  As we enter this final push Democrats are going a new, extraordinary array of capable, well-funded candidates and newly elected statewide elected officials augmenting Biden’s campaign message – Senate races in battlegrounds with unprecedented amounts of money, inspiring House freshman running full out from their re-elections and incumbent Dem governors in MI, NC, PA, WI.  Despite not having the White House, the Democrats will have the money, the talent, the argument and superior campaigns to potentially control the dialogue in the final weeks, or at the very least, make it far harder for Republicans mount a serious counter in the closing days.  A good example is Arizona.  What does Mark Kelley spending $60m and leading by 7 in the Senate race mean for Joe Biden there? A whole heckuva lot.   

Another thing to watch for which may matter in this closing dynamic is whether Trump/GOP money begins drying up.  My guess is that it will, which could create an even more powerful vicious cycle for Trump and his party – to raise grassroots money in the end they have to embrace ever greater extremism, that extremism drives their poll numbers down even further, and so on……That stories appeared this week raising questions about the Trump family’s mismanagement of the campaign’s fundraising could be a sign that money is indeed beginning to dry up.  

Analysis: Should Dems Go For It?

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN’s Simon Rosenberg also does a regular Wednesday webinar on national polling trends – learn more, sign up here.  

Thursday Poll Roundup – Should Dems Go For It?

Top lines – Polls this week show no great change from the basic structure of what’ve been seeing over the past few weeksBiden is up by 8-10 points, Congressional Generic is 9, Trump job approval is -15, battleground states moving toward Biden, and Dems continue to outperform GOP Senate incumbents in AZ, CO, IA, ME, MT, NC – enough to flip the Senate. Early Q2 Senate Dem fundraising numbers show extraordinary, unprecedented hauls, meaning the Dem challengers will have enough money to tell their own stories, in their own words – as Dem candidates did so effectively in the 2018 cycle.  

Should Dems Go For It? A new Politico story about the Dems and 2020 has this passage:

"Simon Rosenberg, who worked as a senior consultant for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2018, when the party swamped Republicans en route to the House majority, said the environment is just as ripe this year.

“The rationale for going big is clear: it can help flip the Senate, create a more powerful mandate for governing, and lock in wins for the coming reapportionment,” he said. “From a governing and party perspective, there will be a powerful case for going big, and trying to get to 400-plus Electoral College votes.” "

Targeting – choosing the strategy for how you win an election – is one of the most important parts of any campaign. Like anything involving strategy, the process of choosing targets must be data driven; and changes to that strategy, which always arise, must also be driven by data and the new campaign art of “analytics.” There is no right way or wrong way – just making calls based on what the data is telling you, and making adjustments as things change.

In 2018, the DCCC knew from its research that there were far many more seats available to us than there had been in previous elections, and the Committee, led by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Exec Director Dan Sena, made the decision to go for it, playing in 70 plus districts. Democrats ended up picking 40 seats, the very upper end of what was possible, winning many more seats than most experts predicted. With investment, well run campaigns, and good candidates, Democrats expanded the battlefield, which also had the advantage of spreading the GOP tactically thin and lessening their traditional advantage in fundraising. 

In politics, like life, you can’t score unless you shoot – and sometimes losing comes as much from not attempting or understanding how to win as it does from the other side beating you. In 2018 the DCCC took lots of shots and it paid off. 

To us, the choice the Biden campaign has to make whether to go big and expand the map is similar to what the DCCC’s team was looking at in 2018. Reach states like GA, IA, NC, TX (and maybe OH) are in play, and if there is enough money, investment, smart campaigns in those states these states can be won by the Biden campaign. We are skeptical at this point that the presidential race is going to tighten up – the structure we discuss above wants this to be an 8-10 point race, where it is now. Trump won 46% in 2016 and 44.8% in 2018 and has never shown the ability to crash through that very low ceiling. 45-46 puts the race at 8-10 pts. 8-10 pts means GA, IA, NC, TX are in play. 

The upside Dems are looking at by expanding the map and going for it is significant. Investing in those states and winning there helps the Senate flip; provides a deeper and broader governing mandate for President Biden; and locks in these gains for the all-important re-apportionment to come after this cycle. This is a very big upside indeed. 

Fighting for GA, IA, NC, TX (and maybe OH) doesn’t mean abandoning the core battleground states of AZ, FL, MI, PA, WI (and NH, NV to a lesser extent). The Biden campaign has a very experienced Presidential crew leading it and has been impressively sure-footed these last few months. They know what they are doing, and are agile enough to shift their strategy if the race does indeed tighten, protecting their leads in the core battlegrounds. But the data today sure suggests like 2018 Team Biden should expand the map and go for it – the upside for everything Democrats care about and have fought for is immense.  

Facing the Dark Turn of Trump's Presidency Head On

So, over the past few weeks, faced with plummeting poll numbers, one would have imagined the President would have changed course, ending a period of historic fecklessness, and attempted to work with Congress on tackling one of America’s many problems.  He could have easily reached out and worked to finally adopt a national strategy to tame the virus; advanced a next round of economic support and stimulus; found ways to honor the protests and promote racial reconciliation in America; discussed the best paths to reopen our schools this fall; improved the ACA, and ensured access to all during a pandemic; countered and challenged China’s swallowing of Hong Kong, stopped Russia’s attacks on our soldiers, people and interests; adopted a next generation approach to climate change; supported long term investments in improving our aging infrastructure……

Instead, the nation has been subject to an extraordinary, relentless and extended screed from the White House about the existential threat posed by the President’s perceived domestic political opponents, much of it imagined and fictional.  The performance of the President, the White House and its allies these past few weeks has been reprehensible and dangerous; the rhetoric we’ve been heard is outside what one could ever expect or accept in a democracy.  

If you haven’t read or watched the President’s speeches on July 3rd and 4th – just do it.  The language, the hyperbole, the violence will shock you. You will find phrases like "there is a new far-left fascism," "this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution," "radical assault" "the radical view of American history is a web of lies," "unleash a wave of violent crime.”  The Washington Post reported:  "He celebrated Independence Day with a dystopian speech in which he excoriated racial justice protesters as “evil” representatives of a “new far-left fascism” whose ultimate goal is “the end of America.” "

The single most poisonous passage came from his July 4th remarks: "American heroes defeated the Nazis, dethroned the fascists, toppled the communists, saved American values, upheld American principles and chased down the terrorists to the very ends of the earth.  We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing."

Friends, we know the guy is loose with his words, but this is the President of the United States conjuring up some dangerous domestic enemy who needs to be fought the way we fought Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, ISIS and Al Qaeda, with the American military, with death and assassinations.  This wasn’t a campaign speech, and the President wasn’t talking about politics or the 2020 elections.  It was an official speech by the President, from the White House, on the 4th of July, and it is was a call to arms by the leader of our government to kill and hunt down a dangerous domestic other.  

These words were not spoken in a vacuum.  A few weeks ago the Trump campaign bought ads on social media which screamed “Dangerous mobs of far-left groups are running through our streets and causing absolute mayhem. They are DESTROYING our cities – it is absolute madness.”  And in some ads the Trump campaign added a symbol used by the Nazis to “identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis.” Like in the President’s July 4th speech what the Trump campaign is clearly floating here is an authoritarian crackdown against domestic “enemies” and using to a Nazi symbol to do it – how in the world did we get here? 

Finally, the President has made these calls in a time of dangerous growth of a new international white supremacist extremist movement, one with clear ties to Russia.  In the last few weeks right wingers assassinated two law enforcement officers in Northern California, have been arrested on terror charges in Las Vegas, and an active duty Army private was arrested on terror charges for conspiring with an European Neo-Nazi group to kill American troops stationed there.  The President is using language and symbols these groups would understand as allied with their aims, and warning after warning has come from the FBI/DHS in recent weeks about the growing threat of these groups here in the US.  

What we have been worried about now is that the President really appears to be exploring, in word and deed (his gassing/shoot of unarmed protestors, use of the US military in DC), some kind of sustained violent assault against his domestic political enemies.  The language of his government and allies has grown far more apocalyptic and violent, and in recent days the President called on his supporters, some of whom are well armed, to take up the fight.  It feels as if we are the edge of something truly dangerous, illiberal and dark.   

We know, we know, it just can’t be that bad.  Trump doesn’t want Americans to die from COVID, lose their jobs and health insurance; doesn’t want the planet to burn; isn’t allowing Putin to kill American troops without challenge; isn’t really using Nazi symbols, encouraging domestic terrorism, threatening to hunt down and kill other Americans.  But, yes, of course, it is that bad; and our job is to stop pretending otherwise.  We’ve run out of innocent explanations.

Analysis: Another Brutal Week of Polls for Trump/GOP

Thursday Poll Roundup -  Another Brutal Week of Polls for Trump/GOP

Every Thursday NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. NDN’s Simon Rosenberg also does a regular Wednesday webinar on national polling trends – learn more, sign up here.  

Top Lines– Polling continues to be shockingly bad for Trump and McConnell.  Trump’s job approval is now at 40.7/56.1 (-15.4), among the worst spreads of his Presidency, and 7 points worse than where he was on Election Day 2018 when Rs lost the House by 8.6 percentage points. The Congressional Generic is up to 49.2/40.3 (-8.9) for the Dems, and the Real Clear Presidential average is now 49.7 Biden 40.3 Trump (-9.4).  

Important to note that 8-10 point spread.  Biden winning by 8-10 pts would put the final vote at 55-45, 54-46.  Trump/GOP received 44.8% of the vote in the 2018 House races, and 46% in 2016.  45-46 is where he’s been these last few years, and it is likely where he will be on Election Day 2020.  It’s not our view that the race will tighten in the coming months, as it would require Trump to get up into the high 40s, a place of job approval and popularity he hasn’t shown the ability to get to in his five years on the national stage.  And why given his awful performance would he gain new supporters at this point? Worst economic record since Hoover, historic deadly surrender on COVID, selling out the US to Russia and China, very public embrace of white supremacy, repeated efforts to strip pre-existing coverage from hundreds of millions of people in the midst of a pandemic…… yikes on defending all that.  

Two Trends To Watch- There are two notable trends we want to drill down on this week, both involving North Carolina. 

The first is the continued suppression of the GOP brand in the Senate races, something we’ve been discussing with you for some time.  In almost every poll battleground GOP incumbents are at 40-41-42-43, and trail their Democratic challenger.  It’s true in AZ, CO, IA, ME, NC – enough states right now for Dems to flip the Senate.  Yesterday a new poll dropped in Montana, and it had Governor Bullock leading 47-43 – remarkably similar numbers to polls we’ve seen in these other states.  AZ and CO look like they are gone now for McConnell, so Dems have to win 2 of these other 4 (IA, ME, MT, NC) to flip it and right now Dems lead in all 4 (and are competitive in the two GA races, and maybe KS and SC too).  

Yesterday the right of center business network CNBC released a slew of polls which caught our eye. These particular polls had been trending a little pro-Trump this year, but this batch came in square in the mainstream of polling right now in battleground Presidential states and Senate races.  With one exception – North Carolina.  CNBC had Dem Senate candidate Cal Cunningham up 51-41 (10 pts!) over Senator Thom Tillis, and Biden beating Trump 51-44.  While this is a single poll, the question now is has Trump’s yanking of the GOP Convention from North Carolina doing damage to the GOP brand there? 

If NC is joining AZ and CO as lost Senate causes, Dems only need one more to flip the Senate.  But if North Carolina is really moving away from the GOP right now, the impact on Trump’s re-elect will be profound (this is the second trend). As we’ve written, recent weeks have seen other must win Trump states FL and WI trend away from Trump.  If North Carolina is joining them, it means that Trump’s Electoral College hill is getting that much steeper and the prospect he could win the Presidency without winning a majority of the vote seems ever more distant. Need to keep an eye on North Carolina polling in coming weeks to see if CNBC picked up a new trend early or was an outlier.  

The other emerging Electoral College challenge for Trump is the utter failure of his COVID response in three critical Sunbelt battlegrounds, AZ, FL, and TX (the CNBC release has a lot of good data on this).   If even 2-3% of the electorate in those states decide to now vote for the Democrats because of this massive GOP policy error that too will make the President’s already steep EC hill even steeper.  This too is a trend to watch.  

The Coming Reckoning With Russia

The Coming Reckoning With Russia - Someday, soon, America will have to look at and make sense of Russia’s years of attacks on our interests, its penetration of our political system, its brazen manipulation of our President.  It will be a very ugly but necessary process. It is possible that news of Russia waging a successful campaign of assassination of US and UK troops in Afghanistan will be the impetus for a thorough public accounting of Putin’s slow burn insurgency against the US and the West – and it should.

The Jan 2017 Intelligence Community report on Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election starts this way: “Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.”

Escalation here is the key.  Since its successful installation of a friendly in the White House, Russia has worked hard to leverage this new valuable new ally.  As NDN has written, over the past several years Trump has worked diligently to align the US with Russia’s interests in Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran, Europe, and the UK, and has systemically weakened core pillars of the US-imagined global order including the G7, NATO, the WTO, WHO, the CIA and the FBI.  He has feted autocrats in the White House, and supported Putin friendly right wing politicians in Europe working to weaken the EU and democratic institutions there.  And the US itself if far weaker today – tens of million unemployed, a virus raging unchecked, racial division, rising right wing domestic political violence – and our standing in the world perhaps permanently diminished.

Reviewing the news in recent months, it is clear that Putin’s strategic campaign against the US is still very active, and evolving.  Russia has waged an expansive campaign to forge online relationships here in the US with military veterans: is helping turn white supremacy into a transnational terror movement with US affiliates; is stepping up efforts to cyber exploit new remote working arrangements by the US government and companies; is working to once again influence/intervene in our domestic politics and elections; and now we learn of this new campaign of assassinations of US troops in Afghanistan.

What remains so concerning is that not only has the US government not launched a sustained and public effort to get Russia to back off, the Trump White House keeps creating space for Russia to executive its campaigns against the US.  Trump has downplayed or ignored rising right wing violence in the US and abroad, so much so that our European allies are unhappy with current levels of cooperation; fired the acting DNI over briefing Congress about Russia’s operations targeting the US; has worked to exonerate Mike Flynn and Roger Stone, aides who most directly conspired with Russia against US interests in 2016 and 2017; resumed his rancid campaign to re-admit Russia to the G7, and this year blew up the G7 itself;  just last week brought the illiberal Polish leader, Duda, to the White House days to bolster his re-election; and has now on the issue of the Russian assassination campaign issued a statement which could have been written by Putin himself.

NDN believes that when it comes to Russia, the President has been committing treason or its philosophical equivalent since the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June of 2016.  However the illicit bonds were formed, the US has become aligned with Putin, acting as a global partner and ally in advancing his dark agenda, here and abroad.  It is critical that US policy makers use this new Putin outrage to launch a sustained discussion about what’s happened, begin to plan a sustained response to roll back the gains Putin has made, and put the US back on the side of the global liberal order we’ve built and led for decades.  There are many messes which will have to be cleaned up form this terrible chapter in our history – but Trump’s appeasement and embrace of Putin may be among the important and consequential for the world and the future of our once inspiring republic.

Analysis: It's Bad Now for Trump/GOP, But It Could Get Worse

Thursday Poll Roundup – It's Bad Now for Trump/GOP, But It Could Get Worse

new NYT/Siena poll confirms the central argument of our last Poll Roundup – to make the race competitive Trump is going to have to get up to 48.5/49, a place he’s never really been, and a place that just seems out for reach of him now.

Trump received 46% of the vote in 2016, and 44.8% in 2018. According to 538 Trump’s job approval has only been over 46% for a few days in his entire Presidency (his first week in the job), and most of the time it’s lived in the low 40s. He’s down in this race by about 10 points which would put the final margin at 55-45 – a familiar place for him, 44/45/46. Trump’s only got to 46% in 2016 with the extraordinary help of a massive Russian effort, and the Comey letter, and as this 538 analysis shows Trump was only at 46% for a very brief window in those final weeks. It was not a place he had sustained for a long period of time.

The big question on the table - is there any reason to believe that Trump can break beyond the percentage of the vote he’s been hovering at for this entire time on the national stage – 44/45/46? It matters for this time, without a third party candidate, he has to get up much higher, 48/49, to have a shot at winning the Electoral College. Our analysis last week using 538’s numbers showed that given current battleground state polling Trump would have to get 48.5/49 to have a shot at winning the Electoral College, and it is very likely he would have to get to 50% to lock it down. The NYT/Siena poll has similar findings. Looking at their battleground state polling, Trump would have to turn a 50/36 race into a three point race, 51.5/48.5, to have a shot at winning the EC. To assure his win he would have to go higher, 49, 49.5, 50. As the NYT’s Nate Cohn writes this morning: “And at the moment, there are limits to what Trump can hope to extract out of the electorate right now. 55% of registered voters said there was "almost no chance" they would support him.” There is that Trump at 44/45/46 number again. Winning the election will require Trump to win 3-4 pts in the electorate he has never had – meaning that to win now Trump has to keep everyone who voted for him in 2016/8 and pick up millions of new voters he’s never had. Yikes to that.

As bad as the race is now for Trump and the GOP, there are three ways it could get worse in the months ahead:

Biden still has room to grow – Biden has not yet picked his VP or formally won the nomination. It is very possible these events, coming soon, would allow him to pick up another 2-3 pts nationally. If his vote share starts to consistently hit 52/53/54, not the 49/50 number he is at now, he will start putting the race away. Keep in mind that in this NYT poll Trump was at 36%, meaning that 64% of the electorate was not supporting him. If that holds, Biden’s upper limit may not be in the mid 50s but in the high 50s. 

COVID – the clear failure of the Trumpian re-open fast strategy may have a significant impact on the fall election. It may not only reinforce broader Trump failures, making any future political recovery for him more challenging, but if it erodes the GOP brand by even 2-3 points in the states heavily impacted right now – AZ, FL, TX and potentially IA and SC – it would make the Electoral College and holding the Senate that much harder for the GOP. A 2-3 point shift in AZ and FL would almost certainly put those two must win states out of play for Trump. Given how close Texas is now a 2-3 pt shift could end up flipping Texas, which has not only would be an EC disaster for the GOP, but a redistricting one as well. 

Young Voters – In 2018 Democrats won younger Americans by enormous margins - +25 for under 45s, +35 for under 30s. Recent Trump job approval measures had suggested that this margin was holding, or even getting worse for Trump. The NYT/Siena poll has some pretty startling findings in this area – 

18-29 Biden 60 Trump 26 +34, 15% undecided/not voting

30-44 Biden 56 Trump 24 +32, 20% undecided/not voting

This would put the under 45 vote at +33 for Biden (OMG), and Trump at 25% (!!!!) with this portion of the electorate (which will make up around 45% of the total vote in 2020). But what should worry the GOP here is if this large uncertain vote that breaks along these current lines, going basically 70/30 for Biden, it will give the former VP another 2-3 points nationally on election day.

For an extended discussion of the under 45 vote do watch my new video presentation, “With Democrats Things Get Better.” It does a deep dive into this critical vote in recent elections.

Things are bad now for Trump, McConnell, and the GOP. But they could get worse in the days ahead. 

With Democrats Live Presentation - June 24, 2020

NDN is excited to release the first public version of our new deck, "With Democrats Things Get Better." It was recorded on June 24th, 2020 so all of the data you see will be current as of then.  The presentation, narrated by NDN's Simon Rosenberg, lasts about 25 minutes, and there is another 35 minutes of questions and discussion if you are interested.   

You can learn more about the thinking behind "With Democrats" here.

Analysis: Trump’s Emerging Electoral College Challenge

Every Thursday, NDN publishes its Thursday Poll Roundup, a deep dive into recent polling and political trends. You can sign up to receive it each week and feel free to review previous editions too. 

Thursday Poll Roundup – Trump’s Emerging Electoral College Challenge

The big trends we’ve been writing about of late – the across the board weakness of the GOP brand – is still very evident this week: 

Biden/Trump      50.2/41.7   + 8.5   Real Clear Politics

Dem/Rep            48.6/40.7   +7.9   538 Congressional Generic

Trump                 41.6/55.1    -13.5 538 Trump Job Approval (Registered/Likely Voters)

Senate polling continues to bleak for the Rs, with none of their incumbents in the 11 seats  they are defending (AZ, CO, GA/2, IA, KS, KY, ME, MT, NC, SC) holding a clear lead at this point.  New polls have Greenfield leading Ernst 46-43 in IA, Ossof leading Purdue 45-44 in GA, Kelly leading McSally 51-42 in AZ and Peters leading James in MI 47-35.  With Democrats holding consistent leads in AZ, CO, IA, ME, NC the Senate looks very much within Senator Schumer’s grasp this year.  

What should be worrisome to Republicans now is the growing evidence that the President is no longer strong enough to win essential arguments with the public.  This trend manifested earlier this year during the Impeachment debate, where on most aspects of the elements of Impeachment – Democrats handling it fairly, witnesses/documents, etc – the President lost the argument, sometimes by very large margins.  We are seeing that now with his handling of COVID, the protests and police violence – all of these issues are breaking dramatically from the President’s stated positions.  A recent poll by the Washington Post put the President’s approval of handling the protests at 35/61, and then there is this data from this morning’s excellent Corona Navigator

Support the protests   66/29

Approve of police response 37/50

Black Lives Matter Fav/Unfav  65/29

Trump COVID Approval  42/57

Over the course of these defining 2020 issues – Impeachment, COVID, the protests – it is common to find the President and his positions in the 20s and 30s, rarely in the low 40s and never in the 50s.  This data, consistent in poll after poll, suggests the President is becoming a spent force, unable to bend and shape the national political environment in a way required for him to win this year.  

Finally, we are starting to get enough high quality polls in the states to get a sense of how the Electoral College is looking.  Using 538’s latest averages, with the race today between +8.5 to 9 pts for Biden, and giving Trump both IA and TX, today it is Biden 368 Electoral College votes, Trump 170 Let’s look at what happens if we tighten the race

Biden/Trump 53/47 (+6) – Trump gets to 219 (GA, NC, OH flip to Trump) 

Biden/Trump 52/48 (+4) – Trump to 230 (AZ flips to Trump)

Biden/Trump 51.5/48.5 (+3) – Trump to 250 (PA flips to Trump) 

Biden/Trump 51/49 (+2) – Trump to 260, maybe 289 (MN, maybe FL flip to Trump).  

Biden/Trump 50.5/49.5 (+1) – Trump to 293 (FL, NH flip to Trump)

 In 2016 Trump got 46% of the vote, and in a high turnout midterm in 2018, Trump/GOP received 44.8%.  For Trump to make this race competitive at this point he will have to make it a 2 point race and get all the way up to 49%, 3-4 pts higher than he was in the last two elections.  This would require him to gain millions of votes from people who have not voted for him before, even if he retained everyone who had voted for him and the GOP in the last two elections.  With historically high unemployment and deficits, COVID untamed, a President seemingly lost in a new and changing environment, a sure footed and smart Biden campaign, what do we really believe the chances of that kind of comeback are this year? 

Spend time with the 538 job approval tracker.  You will find that Trump has only been about 45/46 job approval with likely and registered voters for a day or two in his entire Presidency.  So to make the election competitive in this scenario, Trump will have to get to a job approval level that he has only had for a day or two in the last 3 ½ years, and a level of electoral support he has never come close to.  

These early state polls will change of course, as will the national landscape.  But part of what has made the Electoral College far more daunting for Trump than it was a few months ago is what appears to be significant recent slippage in FL and WI.  If those states remain where they are relative to the other states, this race is going to be very very hard for the President this year.   

On COVID, WTF Is the President Doing?

The data doesn’t lie. COVID here in the US, never tamedis spreading again at too fast a rate in too many states for the US govt to pretend it isn’t happening or for it not to act. Because the federal government has done so little to combat COVID (allowing us to have infection rates up there with exemplars Russia, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, and Sweden), there is much the President could do now to help the country re-open safely – support a national testing and tracing regime, start a big conversation about the need to mask and physically distance, challenge America’s young people to do their part and avoid risky behavior all would be a good place to start.  Our strategy for combatting COVID has failed; the cost to the US in lives, jobs, and our well-being has been immense; it is time now for the President to recognize the magnitude of his failure and course correct.

For all the early mistakes the President made, the most significant mistake he may have made has come in recent days – urging the country to re-open without having the proper tools and protocols in place to lessen the chance of a new surge. The President has time now to correct that mistake and stop asking the entire country to, in essence, sign a waiver absolving him for responsibility for what is happening. The easiest way to do this is for the President and his team to lead a conversation with the American people about the need to maintain physical distancing and mask. These are inexpensive solutions which if widely deployed, could do a great deal to contain the virus and allow us to live “new normal” lives without returning to lockdowns. The President’s attacks on masking and prudent measures by the states have been dangerous, profoundly stupid, and reckless. 

What remains so hard to understand is that with the President and his party seeing truly ruinous 2020 polling numbers, why isn’t the President changing course on COVID? He has clear evidence that the GOP governors who’ve been tough on COVID saw their job approval numbers skyrocket. He has a smart, clear, and well-trodden path to follow. Why, for the good of the nation and for his party, won’t he follow it?

At this point, given the very carnage we’ve seen, and the collapse of the GOP’s brand this spring, we are running out of charitable explanations for the President’s refusal to mount a national campaign to tame COVID. One should note the contrast of the President’s recent intense mobilization of the US military and other federal resources to combat a “terror threat" which didn’t exist to his dogged refusal to mount such an effort to combat the virus. The President didn’t leave our economic response to COVID to the states, or the response to his invented terror threat. Why he thinks it isn’t the responsibility of the federal government to lead a response to a pandemic which affects every American will be the stuff of discussions, books and seminars for a very long time – for it may be the single most destructive set of governing decisions in all of American history.   

Analysis: 5 Months Out, Ds See Opportunity, Rs Trouble

This is the seventh piece in NDN's new weekly polling round-up, published every Thursday. You can find previous weeks' analyses here.

NDN's 2020 Polling Roundup - As we’ve written in our recent 2020 Polling Roundups, NDN has never been a subscriber to the Trump has magical powers school of political analysis.  Without the help of Jill Stein, Russia and the Comey Letter, Clinton would have likely beaten Trump by 5-8 points in 2016.  Trump’s job approval has been minus 10 or worse for more days than all other Presidents in their first term combined since polling was invented.  He’s led his party to three consecutive disastrous elections (2017/18/19) and he got himself impeached for trying to cheat in a crude and ridiculous way in the 2020 elections.  This is not the record of a political mastermind.  

The President received only 46% of the vote in 2016 even with lots of help from Russia and the FBI, and his party only got to 44.8% in 2018 losing a very high turn out midterm 44.8 to 52.4 (8.6 pts).  As there will be no third party candidate this time, Trump will have to get to at least 48% to have a shot at winning the Electoral College this year, meaning he’ll  have to win 2-3% pts of the vote he HAS NEVER HAD to be competitive. With civil unrest, Great Depression level unemployment, a still yet quelled pandemic, and Putin lite law and order bluster, is this likely? We don’t think so. 

Let’s look at where things stand five months out from the 2020 election: 

Job Approval – Using 538’s excellent tracker, the President’s job approval is 42.7% favorable, 53.8% unfavorable, -11.1 pts. On Election Day 2018 it was 44/52.4, -8-4, on a day where he was beaten by 8.6 pts.  So the President is significantly lower today than he was in a very high turnout midterm where he only received 44.8% and lost by 8.6 pts. 

Congressional Generic – On Election Day 2016 Democrats led in 538’s Congressional Generic tracker by 1 point, 45/44, and on Election Day 2018 it was 50.7/42.0, almost 9 pts. Today Democrats lead 48.7/40.9, 8 points.  This question – your Congressional preference – suggests the overall structure of the 2020 election is far more hostile to Republicans than in 2016, and remarkably similar to the 2018 outcome.  

Party ID – We tend to put a lot of stock in this number, as it is the answer to the basic question of what Party do you current affiliate with.  We are going to do a bit more work on this in the coming weeks as not every poll reports this number, and it is not tracked the same among all polls.  But today we will use a single poll as a surrogate for an aggregate, one that has been in the middle of the pack of polls recently, the daily GSG/GBAO tracker.  Today it has Party ID at 49% Dem, 41% Republican, 8 pts.  

Trump Biden Head to Heads – Using Real Clear Politics’ tracker, the current average is 49.9% Biden, 42.1% Trump, 7.8 pts.  Two polls, Monmouth and ABC/WaPo had Biden’s lead in the double digits this week.  

The Electoral College – Assuming MI and PA go to Biden, Trump must win all three of the next tier – AZ, FL, WI - to win, while also holding on to all of the next tier – GA, IA, NC, OH, TX.  In recent polling Biden leads in every one of these states except for Iowa and Texas, which are functionally tied.  Fox News polls released yesterday had Biden up by 9 in Wisconsin (!!!!), 4 in Arizona and 2 in Ohio. Trump is far below where he wants to be right now.  

The NYTimes has quite a story today which reports on how Trump world is coming to terms with how badly the election is going for him right now.  And don’t forget that all those elections Dems won in 2018 in these states – from Congress to governorships and in state houses – will make the collective Democratic voice in these states much louder this year, helping blunt the traditionally powerful Trump noise machine.    

The Senate – In our analysis last week we noted that Republicans are not performing well in any of the 10 seats they are defending this cycle.  Most of their incumbents are in the high 30s and low 40s, disaster territory for an incumbent this late in the cycle. The only state where Rs are even hitting 45 now is GA, and in one recent poll Senator Purdue trailed Ossoff, and Senator Loeffler was at 32%! 

As Simon was quoted in the NYTimes: “The Republican brand seems depressed across the board,” Simon Rosenberg, a Democratic strategist and founder of the NDN, said in an interview. “A lot of time senators can insulate themselves from the vagaries of the national electorate, but that doesn’t seem to be happening this time.”

Key Takeaways - So putting all this together we see Republican incumbents for President and Senate now living at 41-42-43, and a margin across many different measures of 7-8-9 for the Democrats.  One can only find a poll or two taken in the past several months where ANY Republican in ANY competitive state is even at 45%.  Trump’s job approval is 42.7; his head to head w/Biden is 42.1; Party ID and Congressional Generic is 41; most incumbent GOP Senators are topping out at 42 right now.  When numbers line up like this, and it is not always the case in elections that they do, a clear structure has developed within the electorate, and that structure, that dynamic is as negative for GOP as any election we here at NDN can remember at this point in an election cycle.  

So for Trump to win he and his Party are going to have to travel from 41-42-43 today to 48-49 in November. That my friends is a very very heavy lift, and it is particularly difficult for what is in essence the incumbent party.  Looking back over the past generation of US politics, you will be hard pressed to find any incumbent in a Federal race who was able to come back and win from 41-42-43 this late in the cycle.  And as we said, we don’t believe that Trump has magical powers, can defy traditional politics physics. He has never broken 46% in a race, and he enters the summer with America more battered and challenged than perhaps in any time in the past 100 years.  

Where this election wants to be today is Biden winning 53-55 to 45-47, and the Senate flipping.  Where it will be five months from now we don’t know, but based on all this data we’ve reviewed with you we believe we are more likely to see a Democratic wave this fall than Republicans holding onto either the Presidency or Senate.    

We believe when we look back at this time in future years, we will view President Trump as having been both an incompetent President and political strategist; incompetent but also very very lucky. 

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